In addition to the information you gather on your own at the scene of an auto accident, obtaining a copy of the official police report is crucial to your insurance claim.
In many instances, insurance companies will turn down a claim if the police report is missing from the list of supporting documents.
Police usually gather the following information at the scene of an accident, which can go a long way in providing an accurate assessment of the situation:
- Date, time, location of the accident
- Personal data and statements from all drivers, passengers, and witnesses
- A description of the injuries for each individual who is involved with the accident
- Descriptions of the cars that are involved including year, make, model, and color
- The officer’s account of the events that occurred and causes of the accident
- The officer’s drawing of the accident scene and point(s) of impact
- Details on the at-fault driver’s actions that ultimately caused the accident
- Weather and road conditions that may have contributed to the accident
- The extent of damage of each vehicle
- Additional contributing factors relating to the event including speeding, vehicle malfunction, etc.
They may also take pictures of the scene and damage to the cars. Once they have secured the area and gotten all the relevant information, officers tend to use a worksheet at the scene and write up the official report back at their desks. Be sure to get the service number (aka reference number) you will need when requesting a copy of the final report.
Although your mind might be racing in a car accident scenario, remember to request the precinct information, badge number, and phone extension of the officer if you have the ability to do so. Having this information will allow you to get in touch with the officer easily after a few days have passed.
Requesting Your Accident Report
When you speak with the officer, start by reminding him or her who you are. Give some background such as the date of the accident, the circumstances under which it occurred, and the location. If you get voicemail, request that he or she call you back in reference to obtaining an official copy of the report for your insurance claim.
If the officer is unable to assist you for any reason, call the police department general inquiry line to find out the procedure for obtaining a report, or call the local courthouse and ask for a clerk. Once you ascertain which department has the report, you can go to the police station or courthouse and pick up a copy yourself. Some locations will charge a fee.
If you are unable to get a police accident report from both the police department and the courthouse, check in with your insurance copy to find out if they have received it. In some areas, your DMV office will have a copy of the report.
The process of obtaining a report can be frustrating if you don’t have many details about the responding officer. It is understandable that you will be preoccupied at the scene, but at the very least, cover your bases by taking pictures of the badge number and the police car as references for getting in touch later.
If you are working with a car accident attorney, he or she can intervene on your behalf to get a copy of the report. A lawyer can also negotiate directly with insurance companies to ensure you get the compensation your deserve.